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Article

Kenneth W. Prescott

(b Erie, PA, May 23, 1930).

American painter, printmaker and sculptor. He trained at the Cleveland Institute of Art in Cleveland, OH (1948–53), and under Albers family, §1 at the Yale University School of Art and Architecture in New Haven, CT (1953–5). In his paintings of the late 1940s and early 1950s he depicted everyday city life, as in The Bridge (1950; artist’s priv. col., see Lunde, pl. 66). In 1957 he moved to New York, where from 1957 to 1958 he worked as a conservator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and from 1959 to 1961 as a silver designer for Tiffany and Co. During this period he began to produce abstract paintings, using either organic or geometric repeated forms, as in Winter Recipe (1958; New York, Mr and Mrs David Evins priv. col., see Lunde, pl. 100). These led in the early 1960s to asymmetric and imperfectly geometric works, such as ...

Article

Greta Stroeh

[Jean] (Peter Wilhelm)

(b Strassburg, Germany [now Strasbourg, France], Sept 16, 1886; d Basle, Switzerland, June 7, 1966).

French sculptor, painter, collagist, printmaker, and poet of German birth. The son of a German father and French Alsatian mother, he developed a cosmopolitan outlook from an early age and as a mature artist maintained close contact with the avant-garde throughout Europe. He was a pioneer of abstract art and one of the founders of Dada in Zurich, but he also participated actively in both Surrealism and Constructivism. While he prefigured junk art and the Fluxus movement in his incorporation of waste material, it was through his investigation of biomorphism and of chance and accident that he proved especially influential on later 20th-century art in liberating unconscious creative forces.

Following a brief period at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Strasbourg (1900–01), Arp received instruction from 1901 from a friend and neighbour, the painter and printmaker Georges Ritleng (1875–1972). He then attended the Kunstschule in Weimar (1904–7) and the Académie Julian in Paris (...

Article

(b Le Havre, July 31, 1901; d Paris, May 12, 1985).

French painter, sculptor, printmaker, collector and writer (see fig.). He was temperamentally opposed to authority and any suggestion of discipline and devised for himself a coherent, if rebellious, attitude towards the arts and culture. For all his maverick challenges to the values of the art world, Dubuffet’s career exemplified the way in which an avant-garde rebel could encounter notoriety, then fame and eventual reverence. His revolt against beauty and conformity has come to be seen as a symptomatic and appreciable influence in 20th-century culture.

The son of a prosperous and authoritarian wine-merchant in Le Havre, Dubuffet left home for Paris at 17 to pursue irregular studies in the arts. But, growing sceptical of the artist’s privileged status and savouring an affinity with ‘the common man’, he abandoned painting in ...

Article

Philip Cooper

(b Paris, May 16, 1898; d Châtenay-Malabry, Seine-et-Oise, July 21, 1964).

French painter, printmaker, illustrator and sculptor. An illegitimate child, he was given his mother’s surname but was brought up by his grandmother. On the death of both his father and grandmother in 1908 he joined his mother in London, where he entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1912. Finding the teaching too traditional, he left to enrol at the Slade School of Fine Art, which had a reputation for being more avant-garde, though he was again disappointed. He then decided to work alone and devoted himself to painting, concentrating on nudes and still-lifes. He also regularly visited the Tate Gallery, where he was particularly impressed by the works of Turner. In 1917 he was called up for the French Army, but because of his poor health he was soon transferred to the auxiliary corps. Suffering from a pulmonary complaint, he lived in the Tyrol from 1920 to 1921 and was finally discharged from the army in ...

Article

Patterson Sims

(b Newburgh, NY, May 31, 1923).

American painter, sculptor, and printmaker. He was one of the major practitioners of abstract art in the USA after World War II; as early as the 1950s he developed an individual approach that influenced the course of Minimal art, colour field painting, hard-edge painting, and Post-painterly Abstraction without becoming fully a part of any of these movements (see fig.). He was encouraged at high school by a sympathetic art teacher, although his parents were reluctant for him to be an artist and agreed to support only his training in the technical arts, which he pursued at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York (1941–2). In 1943 he was inducted in the US Army where, at his request, he was assigned to the camouflage unit. In 1944 he travelled to Europe, where a short stay in Paris inspired him to return to France at the end of the decade. Following his military discharge (...

Article

José Corredor-Matheos

(b Barcelona, April 20, 1893; d Palma de Mallorca, Dec 25, 1983).

Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker and decorative artist (see fig.). He was never closely aligned with any movement and was too retiring in his manner to be the object of a personality cult, like his compatriot Picasso, but the formal and technical innovations that he sustained over a very long career guaranteed his influence on 20th-century art. A pre-eminent figure in the history of abstraction and an important example to several generations of artists around the world, he remained profoundly attached to the specific circumstances and environment that shaped his art in his early years. An acute balance of sophistication and innocence and a deeply rooted conviction about the relationship between art and nature lie behind all his work and account in good measure for the wide appeal that his art has continued to exercise across many of the usual barriers of style.

Article

David Anfam

(b New York, Jan 29, 1905; d New York, July 4, 1970).

American painter, sculptor, printmaker, and writer. He was a major exponent of Abstract Expressionism whose reductive idiom employing large chromatic expanses exerted a considerable impact on abstract art after World War II. His writings and pronouncements also contributed to the accompanying theoretical debates during and after the 1960s about meaning in non-figurative expression.

After studies at the Art Students League, New York, in 1922 and 1929 Newman destroyed most of his basically realistic initial output and stopped painting by about 1939–40. He explained that the world historical crisis then had rendered traditional subject-matter and styles invalid, necessitating the search for a new, awe-inspiring content appropriate to the moment. A series of essays and catalogue introductions throughout the 1940s reiterated this aesthetic quest. Their polemical stance focused upon the need for a break with outworn European traditions (including such native continuations as American Scene painting), chaos as a wellspring of human creativity, and the irrelevance of beauty in times of terror. Instead, he resurrected the venerable concept of the Sublime for a metaphysical ‘art which through symbols will catch the basic truth of life which is its sense of tragedy’ (‘The Plasmic Image’, unpublished essay, ...

Article

Bengt von Bonsdorff

(b Helsinki, Aug 19, 1924).

Finnish painter, sculptor and printmaker. He studied at the Central School of Industrial Arts in Helsinki (1946–9) and practised drawing at the Free Art School. His earliest work consisted mostly of figure drawings and still-lifes (e.g. the coloured wood engraving Chair Still-life, 1946; see 1982 exh. cat., no. 1). He was drawn to Synthetic Cubism in the spirit of Juan Gris and to faces and masks similar to those in the works of Picasso or in non-Western art. These representations soon gave way to the purely abstract. Nordström first exhibited in 1947 at Nuorten näyttely (‘Exhibition by young artists’; Helsinki, A. Exh. Hall). Two years later he held his first one-man exhibition. It was the first in Finland that consisted entirely of paintings influenced by Constructivism. Nordström developed his abstract programme in a very short time at the end of the 1940s and the beginning of the 1950s. It was then that the foundation of his painting was laid, both technically and formally. This also applied to the prints and three-dimensional constructions, which were small at first (e.g. the coloured wood engraving ...

Article

Anne K. Swartz

Style of painting, and sometimes sculpture, that began in the late 1960s and early 1970s that involves creating works in extreme detail as a reaction to the abstraction celebrated in the 1940s and 1950s. Photorealist art refers to images of reality rendered in extreme detail, often with aid of photographs. The subjects of this style include portraits, still-lifes, and genre scenes. The genre images usually depict daytime scenes, occasionally night-time scenes, but often at midday so the shadows are at their most dramatic.

Photorealist artists were influenced by Pop art, in which the artists were concerned with media saturation (using media as a source for art) and the reproduction or simulation of mass-produced objects as art. They were also informed by Minimalism, in which the artists emphasized a cool detachment and industrial emphasis. Conceptual art and the artistic interest in the 1960s of making ideas into realities also underscore Photorealism....

Article

Marco Livingstone

(Milton Ernest)

(b Port Arthur, TX, Oct 22, 1925; d Captiva Island, FL, May 12, 2008).

American painter, sculptor, printmaker, photographer, and performance artist. While too much of an individualist ever to be fully a part of any movement, he acted as an important bridge between Abstract Expressionism and Pop art and can be credited as one of the major influences in the return to favour of representational art in the USA. As iconoclastic in his invention of new techniques as in his wide-ranging iconography of modern life, he suggested new possibilities that continued to be exploited by younger artists throughout the latter decades of the 20th century.

Rauschenberg studied at Kansas City Art Institute and School of Design from 1947 to 1948 under the terms of the GI Bill before travelling to Paris, where he attended the Académie Julian for a period of about six months. On reading about the work of Josef Albers he returned to the USA to study from autumn 1948 to spring ...

Article

Ronald Alley

(b Rodez, Aveyron, Dec 24, 1919).

French painter, printmaker and sculptor. He was greatly impressed as a boy by the Celtic carvings (incised menhirs and graffiti) in the museum at Rodez and by the architecture and sculpture of the Romanesque abbey of Ste-Foy at Conques. In 1938 he went to Paris for the first time, where he visited the Louvre and saw exhibitions of Cézanne and Picasso. With the intention of training to be a drawing teacher, he enrolled in a studio in Paris but was encouraged instead to enter the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts; he was, however, bitterly disappointed by what was being taught there, which seemed to fall far short of what he had just seen, and returned to Rodez. The paintings he was making at this time were of trees in winter, without their leaves, with the black branches forming a tracery against the sky. He was called up in 1941 but demobilized almost at once. He moved to Montpellier to continue his studies at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts there but spent most of the war working clandestinely on a farm in the Montpellier area to avoid forced labour in Germany. He was able to do very little painting during the Occupation, but he became aware of abstract art through his friendship with Sonia Delaunay, whom he met ...

Article

Lourdes Cirlot

(b Barcelona, Dec 13, 1923; d Barcelona, February 6, 2012).

Spanish Catalan painter, draughtsman, printmaker and sculptor. He was encouraged by his home environment to form an early interest in cultural and intellectual matters, especially in music and literature; his father was a lawyer and his mother came from a family of booksellers. He first came into contact with contemporary art as a teenager through the magazine D’Ací i D’Allà, published in Barcelona, and during the Spanish Civil War (1936–9), while he was still at school, he taught himself to draw and paint. As early as 1942, when he was recovering from a lung infection, he produced pictures clearly influenced by van Gogh and Picasso (e.g. Figure, 1945; Barcelona, Josep Gudiol priv. col., see Cirici, 1971, p. 67); during this period of enforced rest and tranquillity he dedicated most of his time to reading French and Russian novels. In 1944 he began studying law at Barcelona University while also attending evening classes in drawing at the Academia Valls....

Article

Ruth L. Bohan

(b Belostok, Russia [now Białystok, Poland], April 18, 1881; d Great Neck, NY, Oct 4, 1961).

American painter, printmaker, sculptor, and writer of Russian birth. He was born of Orthodox Jewish parents and in 1891 immigrated with his family to America. After settling in Brooklyn, NY, Weber attended the Pratt Institute (1898–1900), where he studied art theory and design under Arthur Wesley Dow. Dow’s extensive knowledge of European and Far Eastern art history, together with his theories of composition, made a lasting impression on Weber. Weber was in Paris from 1905 to 1908 and studied briefly at the Académie Julian. He developed a close friendship with Henri Rousseau and helped to organize a class with Henri Matisse as its instructor. Visits to the ethnographic collections in the Trocadéro and other Parisian museums extended his sensitivity to non-Western art, while travels through Spain, Italy, and the Netherlands broadened his knowledge of the Old Masters.

For several years following his return to America in January 1909...